I graduated in 1968, after a New York State Regents scholarship paid for my entire education. I also worked summers to pay for books and to help at home as my dad was disabled.
That would not be possible today. I guess I'd work all day and go to school at night, taking many extra years to get my degree. Or, I'd just save up till I had enough to minimize any debt I incurred. Our kids are extremely lucky to have their educations paid for. Most can't do this.
A college education is still essential, not just because of jobs. If you study and are in rigorous programs, you will get a 4-year mental workout that will last a lifetime. It's not the current view, but it's my view that a liberal arts education is essential. Throughout life, you run into situations which might lead you to compromise ideals, quality of thought, and to stop asking so many pesky questions. Not good. An educated and questioning population is the best insurance against social decay like we're experiencing now.
Anyway, what's harder for kids now is, obviously, the cost of college. What may not be so obvious is the anti-intellectual trend of our society, the tendency to settle for the easy fix (TV, movies, easy reading, junk food) and not examine things. I would not have made it as a SAHM without the mental strength I had because of my education. My self-esteem was under assault constantly, and I was able to fight back.
It's very scary, because our country is at a crossroads. We could lose many freedoms unless we stay alert, talk back, and ask questions. One may be born with some type of genetic level of intelligence, but it does take training to develop it, and college is definitely worth it.